‘Bubbles’ Starbuck treasures 65 years in Garfield County as teacher, rancher
Citizen Telegram Editor
LaVerne “Bubbles” Starbuck thinks she has lived a life that’s no longer available.
But she wouldn’t trade it for anyone else’s life.
The 87-year-old Starbuck shared her memories with a small crowd Saturday, Aug. 24, at the Rifle Creek Museum’s monthly “Remembering Rifle” series featuring longtime area residents.
Of her nearly 65 years in Garfield County, Starbuck said she was “grateful and happy to have lived it.”
“Every day was something different,” she added. “It’s been a great journey.”
Starbuck and her husband, Frank, lived and ranched on Divide Creek, south of Silt. She worked for 27 years as a schoolteacher and principal at the Hunter Mesa School, Fairview and Rifle Junior High School. Starbuck was also a trustee on the Garfield County library board, Grand River Hospital board, planning and zoning commission and the West Divide Water Conservancy District board.
Starbuck was born in 1926 in Arvada, the eighth of 10 kids. She graduated from Arvada High School. Her family lived on a 10-acre vegetable farm and grew tomatoes, onions, asparagus, corn, strawberries, raspberries. Starbuck came to the Rifle area to teach, met Frank and got married. He passed away in 2006.
“Everything has its ups and downs, you learn to cope,” Starbuck said.
Among the memories she recalled included horseback riding, cow camps and school buses that came 25 miles out into the county to pick up and drop off school children.
Starbuck also lamented the loss of the horse track at the Garfield County Fairgrounds due to recent remodeling just before the 75th anniversary fair.
“Now there can never be another horse race,” Starbuck said. “They were the predominant reason for entertainment at the fair every year.”
Box socials on Valentine’s Day featured shoe box lunches, colorfully decorated by school children, she recalled.
“Every time we needed to have an auction to raise money for new desks, box socials were number one on the list,” Starbuck said. “It was fun times.”
Christmas programs and tap dancing lessons were other memories Starbuck shared. Teachers in the 1930s were paid around $75 a month, but could not teach if they got married, she also recalled.
At their 1,500-acre Divide Creek ranch, the Starbucks used a windmill to bring well water to their home.
“We had a 3,000 gallon cistern, and every evening the wind would come up and we’d have to turn the windmill on,” she said. “We never, ever ran out of water, and I just loved the sound of that windmill at night.”
Starbuck regrets that Rifle is no longer an agricultural community.
“It’s an industrial community now,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to have school children visit this museum.”
Starbuck recalled the railroad would stop in Rifle and Silt and leave several cars on the tracks, farmers would fill them with sugar beets and the railroad would come back in a week to take them to be sold.
“Now, no one even knows that sugar beets were even grown around here,”she said.
After her informal talk with the handful of people and friends, Starbuck said it had “made me reminisce and bring back memories I’d stowed away for a while and got to relive.”
Now, Starbuck lives in a Battlement Mesa townhome and said, “I work a lot of crossword puzzles” to keep her mind sharp.
Next month’s “Remembering Rifle” gathering is to feature Don and Joanne Dorrell.
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